ROGERS, LELAN EDWARD
ROGERS, LELAN EDWARD (1928–2002). Lelan Edward Rogers, producer, manager, and music industry leader, was born in Cherokee Country, Texas, on June 9, 1928. He was the son of Edward Floyd Rogers and Lucile (Hester) Rogers. Lelan Rogers, the older brother of country music star Kenny Rogers, was a pioneer of the Texas rock music scene and worked in many facets of the music industry.
Lucile and E. F. Rogers were sharecroppers who moved their family often. The eldest of seven children, Lelan Rogers was ten years old when his brother, Kenny, was born in 1938. Kenny Rogers became a successful folk and pop singer during the 1960s and achieved major stardom after he crossed over into country music in the 1970s.
Like his younger brother, Lelan Rogers experienced his own success within the music industry. In the mid-1960s the founders of the Houston-based recording label International Artists hired Rogers to head their national promotion efforts. Under Rogers’s direction, the label thrived and produced some of the most innovative records to come out of the Texas rock scene of the late 1960s. One of the most notable bands promoted by Rogers was the 13th Floor Elevators from Austin. Formed in 1965, the group consisted of lead guitarist Stacy Sutherland, drummer John Ike Walton, bassist Benny Thurman, Tommy Hall on jugs, and lead singer Roky Erickson. With their unusual, reverberating sound, the 13th Floor Elevators were pioneers in the Texas psychedelic rock music scene and later earned considerable recognition on the West Coast.
With Lelan Rogers’s guidance, the Elevators became arguably the Lone Star State’s most influential psychedelic acid rock band. He produced the group’s first album, The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators, which included the songs “Splash 1,” “Reverberation,” “You Don’t Know,” and the single “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” As producer, Rogers helped make the album one of the most original and accomplished records of the era. He also produced the band’s second album, Easter Everywhere.
After his work with the 13th Floor Elevators, Rogers discovered the psychedelic band Red Crayola (later changed to Red Krayola), which was performing in a shopping mall. As Rogers observed the crowd that had gathered to hear the band, he became convinced that Red Crayola was very marketable. In 1967 the band released its album The Parable of Arable Land on the International Artists label. Rogers also produced a Lightnin’ Hopkins album.
Though Rogers’s time with International Artists was fairly brief, his work established his importance as an influential force in Texas rock-and-roll. Some years after International Artists ceased producing recordings and filed for bankruptcy, Rogers purchased the rights to its catalog and reactivated the label which resulted in the 1980 release of Epitaph for a Legend, a retrospective compilation of songs by various artists.
On July 22, 2002, Lelan Rogers died at the age of seventy-four from respiratory complications at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. A visitation service was held on July 24, 2002, at the Broadway Chapel in Nashville, followed by a funeral the following day at Roesch Patton Chapel in Nashville. Rogers is remembered within the music industry as a pioneer who helped pave the way for the Texas rock-and-roll scene of the 1960s.
Andy Bradley and Roger Wood, House of Hits: The Story of Houston’s Gold Star/SugarHill Recording Studios (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010). Gary Hartman, The History of Texas Music (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2008). Houston Chronicle, July 25, 2002; March 30, 2008. International Artist Records (http://www.internationalartistsrecords.com/ ), accessed November 18, 2010. “Kenny Rogers’ Older Brother Dies,” CMT.com, (http://www.cmt.com/news/news-in-brief/1456212/kenny-rogers-older-brother-dies.jhtml), accessed November 18, 2010.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Jennifer Cobb, "ROGERS, LELAN EDWARD ," accessed February 28, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/frofa.
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